Mekeni Food Corporation began in 1986 as a home-based chicharon and tocino enterprise of husband and wife, Felix M. Garcia & Medicia L. Santos, both public school teachers from barrio Balubad, Porac, Pampanga. But the roots of the business span over two decades earlier, when the couple, assisted by their five sons – Adrian, Pruds, Lito, Doods and Nards, ventured into backyard poultry and piggery to augment the meager family income. With a loan and some savings on hand, the family started out with 100 chicken heads, a pen, and two piglets. Their sons, who were still at school back then, also engaged in selling “ice candy” and chicken eggs within the neighborhood and at the nearby palengke (public market) to help save for their studies.
Everyone, especially the boys, had a hand in the business from cleaning the pen, mixing the feeds and to gathering the eggs. At daybreak, the family would be up doing the chores and the boys would get ready to deliver the eggs to the market right before going to school. This became their daily family routine of hard work and practice of responsibility during their younger years.
During this period, the backyard enterprise started to flourish and became a full-blown business, ushering the birth of Mekeni Meat Products
Growing Up Years
The meat business was a great help for Felix and Meding to send their five boys to college which wouldn’t be possible had they solely relied on their low government salaries. The couple’s perseverance, hard work, and commitment to God and family soon paid off. It enabled their eldest son Adrian to work in the US for a meat processing business after he finished college in 1977. Also, Pruds and Lito became certified public accountants. Pruds has become an audit manager in Saudi Arabia while Lito also worked in the Middle East kingdom as a cost accountant. Doods and Nards soon earned college degrees in business administration.
Rising from the Ashes of Pinatubo
The remarkable eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in 1991 not only adversely affected the family business but also inevitably wrought damage to many homes in Porac, Pampanga which caused many displaced families to seek temporary shelter in public school buildings. One of these evacuation centers was the elementary school where Felix taught, located in front of his house.
Out of compassion for his neighbors and love for his devastated community, he summoned his sons, three of whom were in abroad at that time and enjoying a life of comfort – with stable, high paying jobs – to get back home. No ifs and buts, they returned home not just to revive their slumped meat business but most importantly, to render help and support for the victims of the catastrophe in their lahar-ravaged community.
The first thing that the Garcias did when they returned home was to hire 30 qualified people from Balubad to help sustain the meat venture. They made sure that each worker was treated like a member of the family, giving them place and entrusting them significant role to play in the company.
Dedication, teamwork, and drive for excellence were the underlying principles that governed the processing of their meat products. They toiled wholeheartedly to earn their share of the market.